Sex infections still growing in U.S., says CDC
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – American squeamishness about talking about sex has helped keep common sexually transmitted infections far too common, especially among vulnerable teens, U.S. researchers reported Monday.
Latest statistics on chlamydia, gonorrhea and show the three highly treatable infections continue to spread in the United States.
"Chlamydia and gonorrhea are stable at unacceptably high levels and syphilis is resurgent after almost being eliminated," said John Douglas, director of the division of sexually transmitted diseases at the .
"We have among the highest rates of of any developed country in the world," Douglas added in a telephone interview.
The administration of has signaled a willingness to move away from so-called abstinence-only sex education approaches promoted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, and conservative state and local governments.
Several studies have shown such approaches do not work well and that it is better to encourage abstinence while also offering children and teens information about how to protect themselves from diseases as well as pregnancy.
"We haven't been promoting the full battery of messages," Douglas said. "We have been sending people out with one seatbelt in the whole car."
The CDC's latest study on STDs found:
* 1.2 million cases of chlamydia were reported in 2008, up from 1.1 million in 2007.
* Nearly 337,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported.
* Adolescent girls 15 to 19 years had the most chlamydia and gonorrhea cases of any age group at 409,531.
* Blacks, who represent 12 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for about 71 percent of reported gonorrhea cases and almost half of all chlamydia and syphilis cases in 2008.
* Black women 15 to 19 had the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea.
* 13,500 syphilis cases were reported in 2008, an almost 18 percent increase from 2007.
* 63 percent of syphilis cases were among men who have sex with men.
* Syphilis rates among women increased 36 percent from 2007 to 2008.
Syphilis, chlamydia and gonorrhea can all be treated with antibiotics but untreated can cause , infertility, and can infect newborns.
Douglas said better sex education can help.
"We are not honestly and openly dealing with this issue and it's the larger issue of sexual health," he said.
Douglas said children and teens need to know about condom use, and should limit their number of sex partners and avoid sex with people who do have many other sex partners.
"If you are a man who has sex with men you ought to be getting a battery of every year," Douglas added.
In addition, black Americans need to understand their risks. Douglas said high rates of incarceration of men in many black communities meant fewer men have sex with more women, in turn often spreading sexually transmitted diseases.
Overall, CDC estimates that 19 million new sexually transmitted infections occur each year, almost half among 15- to 24-year-olds.
(Reporting by Maggie Fox, editing by Anthony Boadle)
This reconfirms other studies linking a lack of sex education with the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases. Interestingly, those states with the highest rates of teen pregnancies are typically in the Bible Belt, illustrating yet again the problematic nature of treating sex as a sinful and evil act (unless with a church-sanctioned spouse).
What is truly scary is the rate of infection for genital herpes. Over 20% of the adult population of this country is currently infected, which is a little gift that keeps on giving until the day you die. When I asked my students about this recently, during a current events discussion about feminism and sex in dating (which I will cover in a following post), they looked completely clueless. They are not getting the information they need to know. Even some of the female students did not know about the shots to prevent human papillomavirus, the acquisition of which significantly increases your chance of contracting cervical cancer.
It is almost comical, in the worst sense, to see what passes for a journalist on Fox 'news' complain about South Africa's denialist AIDS policies, and yet these are the same people in this country who would have a coronary at the thought of anyone partaking in sex outside of marriage (or having information about the best ways to deal with the issue when they do). Even Bristol Palin would concur on the foolhardiness of this mindset. It is a sad commentary that we still have an education system that is being forced to live an illusion to make someone else feel a little happier about the blissfulness of their ignorant life on Sunday morning.